In Netflix‘s Masaba Masaba, real-life mother-daughter duo Neena Gupta and Masaba Gupta play fictionalized versions of themselves. There are glimpses into Masaba’s fashion empire, accounts of her divorce and an insight into the equation she shares with her mother. If you enjoyed it, here are five more films that give you an insight into various industries, and often feature actors and directors playing versions of themselves:
Episodes is a 2011 TV show starring Matt Le Blanc, playing a character a called Matt Le Blanc. He’s playing himself but not quite. True to real life, the character on the show is a former TV star who is still living under the shadow of Joey Tribbiani, his character in the hit sitcom Friends. The Matt Le Blanc of the show is quite awful and gives hell to his directors. It’s fun to watch the actor sportingly play a parodied version of himself – one that presents him as an obnoxious star. The show also takes potshots at Hollywood which is seen through the eyes two British writers trying to make in America.
In Fan, Shah Rukh Khan plays a superstar called Aryan Khanna but it could have well been called Shah Rukh Khan. Maybe Khan didn’t want people to think that like Aryan Khanna, he, too, would be cold and heartless if a crazy fan actually landed up like the way Gaurav, also played by Khan, does in the film. It opens with actual clips of his movies, old interviews and award functions. We see him at his famed abode, Mannat, playing video games with his son and daughter, teasing his wife. Even a scandal—about slapping a film industry colleague at a party—is straight out of real life. All of which makes you wonder how the real SRK would’ve reacted if he faced a similar predicament as in Fan.
Taxi (or Taxi Tehran), arguably one of Jafar Panahi’s most innovative films, shows the filmmaker posing as a cab driver in Tehran after being banned from making films in Iran. The narrative blurs the boundary between fiction and reality here, entering a more meta realm — along with us, even his passengers identify him as the famous Iranian director as he drops them to their destinations.
No.20 Madras Mail
Mammootty has played himself or exaggerated variations of his real life personality in many films (Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, Kadha Parayumbol), but his best has to be the accessible, affable, kurta-sporting Mammootty he played in Number 20 Madras Mail. Until then, his off-screen personality was assumed to be that of a strict, no-nonsense angry man who had no time for jokes. But in this film, we saw another side to him, justified amply when he lets a drunk like Tony (Mohanlal) kiss his cheeks. Helpful and daring even later, he really goes out of his way to help his train-mates when things go down the drain. Honestly, we need to see more of this Mammootty BRO in our films.
Being John Malkovich
Trust Charlie Kaufman to take the idea of casting John Malkovich as John Malkovich and turn it on its…head? That’s right. That’s where the portal, in one of the office rooms, situated on the 7½ floor, discovered by the John Cusack character in the film leads to: inside the head of John Malkovich, the brilliant, cerebral Hollywood actor. Meta piles upon meta when Malkovich tries it out for himself, leading to what is possibly one of the greatest scenes in movie history.